Dall sheep have a broad habitat. They are a subarctic as well as arctic animal. The most northern group of these animals live in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The alpine ridges, meadows, and steep, rocky slopes that have “escape terrain” are where the dall sheep live. The flock likes to rest and feed on these slopes. They are also there to keep away from predators because they can flee to the rocks easier than their predators. Some of these predators would include bear, golden eagles, wolves, and humans.

Characteristics and Physical Features of the Dall Sheep

Height: Rams and Ewes 35 in. to shoulder
Weight: Rams 200-250 lb., Ewes 110-150 lb.
Color: White usually, may vary from yellowish white to snow white. It is the only wild white sheep in the world.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Known for their magnificent curling horns. The horns of the dall sheep take eight years to reach full size. Ewes have shorter, more slender horns. The horns are made out of keratin, which is the same substance as human fingernails are.

Breeding: The lambs are born in late May or early June. Near the time for lambing the ewes seek a protected spot that is quiet to birth her lambs. They usually choose the most rugged cliffs available.

After the lambs are born they are strong enough to leave the birthing areas in as little as a week. By the time they have left the birthing area they are also eating vegetation and the ewes wean them in October.

Range: Northern regions of the globe both Arctic and Subarctic. In Alaska, except in the Southeast, the Yukon and Northwest Territories and a few in northwestern British Columbia. Sheep like where they live. After they have chosen a group to join (which young rams sometimes do) they never leave it. Because they stay up on the steep slopes in remote places the dall sheep are pretty health and don’t get diseases from domestic livestock.

  Diet: Grasses, sedges, lichens, moss and willow make up their diet.

How do dall sheep survive in the cold weather?

Dall sheep have hollow hair which insulates their body. They also like the south-facing slopes because they get more sun.
Do male dall sheep actually fight for their mate?

Males only fight before breeding season to gain dominance over all the males. They begin fighting when they reach maturity at about seven to nine years. The size of his horns determine his place in the ram hierarchy.
What is annuli?

Annuli is the pattern of growth on the rings of the dall sheep. These horns are made of keratin like your fingernails. Even though the horns are made out of the same stuff as fingernails they are very heavy.
Can you tell how old a dall sheep is by looking at it?

The bigger the horns the older the sheep is. The horns stop growing in the winter. Because of this stoppage of growing “growth rings” occur. You can identify how old a sheep is by the number of “growth rings” that his horns have. Ram horns reach half a circle in about three years, 3/4 of a circle in about five years, and a full circle or “curl” in seven to eight years. To tell how old a sheep is just count the growth rings.
Do dall sheep eat dirt?

They like to visit mineral licks during the spring and will travel many miles to reach a mineral lick to eat the soil there. Eating soil may sound different but it helps the sheep with any mineral deficiencies it may have. Mineral licks are great places to see dall sheep for longer periods because they ignore people when they are there.
How many are there in the Alaskan Arctic?

Current population numbers for the dall sheep in the Brooks Range is 30,000. There are other dall sheep in Alaska but this number is for the sheep living in the Arctic area.
Why do some people say dall sheep and some say Dall’s sheep?

The proper name is Dall’s sheep however, most often it is referred to as dall sheep. The species is named for scientist, William H. Dall even though he may not have had anything to do with them. E.W. Nelson gave the sheep their first scientific name, Ovis montana, with a sub name of dalli. Later J.A. Allen changed the name from montana to dalli. So their Latin name is now Ovis dalli dalli.
Can you tell how old this dall sheep is?

.zoo_sheephead1.jpg (5598 bytes)

This sheep is approximately 7 years old.
How do arctic people benefit from the dall sheep?

Subsistence hunters hunt dall sheep because they have good meat. They aren’t as popular as caribou because they are harder get to when hunting. They are also a lot smaller than other animals that the native people hunt.